HFTP and HTNG, Old Commentary and New Horizons…By Frank Wolfe - Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at HFTP
Now that summer has officially ended, many of us begin some serious travel to industry events. Just a few weeks ago Hospitality Upgrade hosted their annual CIO Summit, which gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with HTNG's (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) new CEO, Mike Blake. For those of you who may not recall, HFTP was one of the first supporters of HTNG when it was created in 2002 at HITEC. Mike and I have been industry friends for a long time and one of the events held at the summit was a sailing regatta competition and it just so happened we were assigned to the same team. We worked very hard as a team, but despite much effort our group was voted "most likely to sink" and came in dead last. It's a good thing our groups didn't hire us for our sailing skills!
On a more serious note, it is no industry secret that over the last few months there have been numerous conversations about the competitiveness between HFTP and HTNG. To me these have been caused by both organizations doing a better job of educating their members about their respective associations and the increase of social media use. One commentary which has surfaced is that HFTP is doing the industry a disservice because of its recent announcements to produce HITECs in Asia and Europe, and CIO Forums outside North America. Some say the industry does not need more conferences or tradeshows and that other organizations have things covered.
While I can only speak on behalf of HFTP, we have had many successes since our 1996 HFTP Board of Directors decided we would become the global group speaking for hospitality financial and technology professionals. So here are some points illustrating our operations related to the aforementioned commentary:
- Like any business, albeit nonprofit, HFTP's Board of Directors and staff have done due diligence to do our best to make sure HFTP events are successful. Although there are no guarantees, HFTP began laying the groundwork for these events around the year 2000 at the request of members in the industry.These requests are so frequent, that they have been brought up at almost all of our planning sessions. Since the announcement was made in July 2015 about our plans to create additional meetings, HFTP has entertained proposals in the double digits for involvement, sponsorships, and groups who want to share our profits (or risks). One of HFTP's new forays internationally produced more than 100 CIOs of companies that were not on the regular radar of the North American based conference circuit and is creating an excellent format for "sellers" to network with them. So, while there might be too many conferences, it would seem that there are not too many good networking conferences with both "buyers and sellers."
- Since 2002, the association has produced more than 25 conferences solely produced by HFTP outside the USA and Canada. These include events in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, UK, Netherlands, the Caribbean and soon to be India. In addition to these self-produced events, HFTP has either planned or co-produced a minimum of an additional 40 events outside of North America. HFTP produced events where attendance ranged from 75 to just under 500 attendees. Currently, HFTP has offices and staff members in Hong Kong and The Netherlands. By the time of HFTP's upcoming CIO Forum in India, we will have a third staffed office outside of North America. HFTP welcomes collaboration with other industry groups for our non-North American events. just like we currently do at HITEC. Like any business though, these collaborations are made to enhance the product and the players usually bring resources that are not currently available at the table.
- HFTP is a professional association that exists to assist the individual member. Our value proposition is that we are a global nonprofit hospitality association that uniquely understands the industry's issues. We assist our members in finding solutions to industry problems more efficiently than any organization via our expert networks, research, conferences such as HITEC, and certification programs. HFTP has more than 5,000 members and several more thousand stakeholders across the globe. HFTP is recognized as the group speaking for the finance and technology segment of the hospitality industry. We have chapters throughout the world, representing hotels, clubs, restaurants, resorts and casinos. The chapters embrace both "buyers and sellers" of products, with "sellers" helping participating in chapter activitiy and on our Board of Directors. We often assist in bringing other offerings to the industry. For example, HTNG was formed (at HITEC with the support of HFTP) to facilitate the development of next-generation, customer-centric technologies to better meet the needs of the global hotel community as a trade association. With that said HFTP is not a trade association like HTNG, which represents the enterprise, not the individual, and that is not something HFTP intends to do.
I want to reiterate a couple of points about the HTNG/HFTP relationship that might have gotten lost "in the weeds." HTNG was created at HITEC with the support of HFTP. From its inception, HTNG was created to fill a need that was not being addressed by the industry. Because HTNG is a trade organization made up of a majority of vendor/supplier members, HFTP provided them a forum, exhibit space and education session opportunities to market the organization. Over the years, HFTP has maintained that support. During the recent HTNG CEO search to identify the successor of HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame member Doug Rice, HTNG leadership contacted me to discuss my opinions of HTNG and my comments were accepted graciously. During HITEC 2015, HFTP sponsored an event attended by both HFTP and HTNG Board of Directors to honor Doug Rice. In late August, HFTP hosted HTNG at our offices in Austin and it was a very productive meeting. It is my opinion that HFTP and HTNG both do a great job in working towards making the industry better together.
In summary, HFTP and HTNG are two organizations that have powerful members that operate in the same space. Sometimes we compete, sometimes we share, and sometimes we concentrate on our own mission statements independently. The areas where we compete only make our organizations better and the areas where we share makes the industry better.
Until next time.........
Frank I. Wolfe, CAE is CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), which produces the largest hospitality technology conference in the world – HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference). Mr. Wolfe joined HFTP in 1991 and has been at the helm since 1994. At that time, he was one of the youngest association CEOs in North America. In 2000, Mr. Wolfe was honored by Lodging Magazine by being included in the “75 Profiles in Leadership” edition, a who’s who of 75 individuals who have made major contributions to the hospitality industry. In 2002, Mr. Wolfe received the HFTP Paragon Award for his significant and lasting contributions to HFTP and the hospitality industry. In 2010 he was recognized as a "Technology Trailblazer" by Hotel Business Magazine. In June 2011, Mr. Wolfe was inducted into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame for his leadership with various hospitality technology projects, as well as assisting in educating the industry, over the past 20 years.